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Downloading Clip art - some tips

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Artwork, clipart, or photos that are included in graphic arts packages or software can be of very good quality, but are limited and can be dated. Each printing company I worked for as a graphic artist had some sources for good professional clip art.

Of course, sometimes I drew my own art, but for the sake of speed (and my limitations!) I often used commercial art source books.

These books are sometimes online and charge for every logo, piece of artwork, or photo. A good commercial piece of art can be pricey, and well worth it. For people like me, who do not have much extra money, it can really pay to find FREE art and photo sites.


I am now almost ready to list the best free sites that I have found so far. Before I do, it is important to read these handy hints.


Always check out every FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page on each art or photo web page. Be sure that you are following the rules for each web page.

1. Know the policy for each web page when it comes to using their artwork. Some sites listed here are free, but only for personal use. Other websites allow you to use all of the images commercially as well. If a website is offering public domain art, they may or may not have a copyright on the artwork. Just check this out on the FAQ as well.

2. Be aware that some sites have both free and pay areas. You may migrate to another area without knowing it on the very same website. On some websites, you can make one mistaken click and be on a pay area. Be sure to check which area of the site (the free or the pay area) you are in before you download artwork or photos. You will not have to pay until you OK each purchase, if you want to purchase art or photos.

3. Know where you are going to download. Most sites allow you to pick where your artwork will wind up on your computer. I find it easiest to put all my art or ebook downloads on the computer desktop. You may find your art folder handiest.

4. It is totally up to you where you put your downloaded artwork. Some computers, programs, or web browsers have a preferences folder where you can send your art or photos automatically. You need to have this information furnished before you download.

5. Check out all the information about copyright (below) and on the web. This will help you only download art, information, books, or photos that are legal for you to use.

Attention: some of these sites may have popups, or ads that pop up on your computer when you go to them. Fix your popups in your preferences area and it might help.

Also, you can just "X" out of these at the upper right of the popup window when you get them, and the page you really wanted will turn up underneath them.

So... just a word to the wise. These pages are free, but some can be annoying at times.

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The best thing about public domain artwork is that most of it can be used for any project. It can also be changed or redone. You can also use part of each image to make something new.

As a general definition, artwork in the public domain is published art after 1924. The original copyright holder(s) are gone, and/or they did not fill out the required paperwork to extend the original copyright. This art is sometimes now free for public use.

Most public domain sites let you use the artwork for anything, and many give it away for free - - but make sure you check first to make sure that this is the story for each site you visit.

Some sites have found public domain art and have published them with copyright. For this reason, you should read all the fine print on the site (FAQs etc.) , just in case.

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People must be careful about not using books artwork on the internet that is copyrighted - - without permission from the artist or author. They must be extra careful to only use artwork that is in the public domain or that the artist him or herself has okayed for personal or commercial use - - or both.


Just about everything. If in doubt, always assume that art, clipart, and written copy is all copyrighted. It does not even need an official copyright (©) symbol to automatically have a copyright.

It is important to know that using any artwork without the permission of the artist or author (if the art is not in the public domain) is not allowed. If in doubt, check, and ask.

Here is a little more about copyright:

Copyright on Wikipedia

You can learn even more at the Project Gutenberg website.

CAVEAT EMPTOR... downloader beware...

I do request that you double-check all of the sites listed in this ebook to make sure that the artwork is totally free and clear for you to use personally or commercially; or both. Usually, the site will announce its copyright policy. It is possible, though, that the website owner may offer both free and copyrighted art on his or her site.

To be safe, follow all of  the site instructions.

The site may request that you only use the artwork for personal use (or on a personal website). They may change from a free to a pay site after time. That is another reason why it is important to always read the site guidelines for art and copy downloading.

Some websites may allow you to use low-resolution (low-res) copies of their artwork, but charge for higher resolution images.

Also, websites change from time to time. Be sure to read all the fine print on all art and photo websites to make sure you are downloading or using legal artwork or photos the way the artist or author wishes them used.


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